A detailed account of the tank battles in Normandy after D-Day when British, Canadian, Polish, and French forces moved off their landing beach sectors to meet the best of Nazi Germany's elite professionals—the Waffen SS Panzer Corps. Reynolds, a retired British major general and former high- ranking NATO officer (The Devils Adjutant, 1995, etc.), focuses on the makeup of the feared SS units that stopped the Allied advances and threatened to drive the citizen soldiers back into the sea. Though fighting for one of the most brutal regimes of all time, they were considered some of the best troops in modern times. The early Waffen SS selectees were highly motivated teenagers who were trained to excel in obedience and self-sacrifice. Pride, courage, and mastery of the best weapons and tactics in tank warfare were stressed. Most of their officers rose from the ranks as highly decorated, battle-hardened veterans. In addition, the American Sherman tanks were no match for the German Tiger and Panther tanks. The SS units inflicted heavy losses on the Allies and, when his forces failed to move forward at Caen, almost caused Gen. Montgomery to be replaced. Massive Allied air power and devastating naval gunfire helped to save the day, destroying German strongholds, equipment, and supplies and ending a bloody war of attrition. Reynolds describes the failure of the Allies at Falaise to seal off the German retreat but believes that it was the fierce Panzer counterattack rather than Allied bungling that spared the Germans. Reynolds seems to give less credit to the American GIs, disregarding Patton's destruction of the German left wing, which forced the enemy to flee toward Falaise, as well as the key American seizures of crucial terrain at Cherbourg and in Brittany. A British view of the Normandy battles, and a well researched narrative drawing heavily on German as well as Allied archives. (Military Book Club selection)

Pub Date: July 1, 1997

ISBN: 1-885119-44-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1997

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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